A man survived a plunge of at least 180ft over Niagara Falls in an apparent suicide attempt – only the third person known to have lived after going over the falls without a safety device.
Niagara Parks Police said witnesses reported seeing the man climb over a railing up to 30 feet over the Horseshoe Falls at 10.20am local time yesterday and “deliberately jump” into the Niagara River.
Seriously injured, he surfaced in the lower Niagara River basin near the Journey Behind the Falls observation platform and managed to make it to shore on his own.
“He waded ashore,” said Platoon Chief Dan Orescanin of the Niagara Falls, Ontario, Fire Department. “He must have gotten swept into an eddy, floated over there and was able to get out on his own.
“That’s another stroke of luck. If he was in the main current, he would have been swept down river.”
Mr Orescanin said the man was conscious and talking at first but went quiet. He appeared to have chest injuries, including broken ribs and a collapsed lung.
The man was airlifted to hospital where he is critically injured but expected to survive.
The man, believed to be in his 30s or 40s, was rescued about two hours later after fire department rescuers rappelled down the steep and rocky gorge and pulled him in a basket back up the cliff.
The rescue comes weeks before daredevil Nik Wallenda plans to walk over Niagara Falls on a tightrope after convincing United States and Canadian officials to grant an exception to laws prohibiting stunting.
Although several have survived trips over the falls in barrels or other contraptions few have survived unprotected. In 1960, seven-year-old Roger Woodward was swept over the falls wearing a life jacket and survived.
The last person to go over the Falls unaided and survive was a 30-year-old Canadian man in March 2009. In October 2003, Kirk Jones, an out-of-work car parts salesman from Michigan, survived his plunge over the falls.